Robot Swarms Could Track Oil Spills in the Oceans

From Tech Fragments comes this story about autonomous underwater explorers (AUEs). These robots will be developed to deploy as a swarm and would be coordinated so they can follow the flow of the ocean currents.  Scientists hope to use the ball-shaped robots to measure ocean currents and from these measurements track such things as pollution from an oil spill.  "The information that each robot in the underwater flock has is pretty limited…and this information is very local. From this, we want to induce some sort of global behavior so the whole group moves in one direction—to follows the spill, for example. This is part of the algorithm design. Out of very local information, we need to induce global behavior of the flock of underwater robots," said professor Jorge Cortes, of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

Follow the links below to see the several of the posts and stories on these little bots.

Credit: Tech Fragments and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego

Tiny Robot Swarms Will Study Tiniest Sea Life
Giant robots are best suited for Terminator-scale tasks. To measure the sea's tiniest inhabitants, oceanographers will need to build a new type of robot.
Swarm of Autonomous Robots to Patrol Oceans U.S. News & World Report
Scientists to release swarms of robots into the oceans
Sea Faring Robots to Monitor Oil Spills Tech Fragments
KPBSGenetic Engineering News (press release)
all 13 news articles »

Tiny Robot Swarms Will Study Tiniest Sea Life – FOXNews
(author unknown)
Tue, 10 Nov 2009 19:50:45 GMT

Robot Swarms for Defense and Emergency Missions

A relative newcomer to the world of robotics is developing a system of robots that can work together to carry-out tasks for military or emergency situations. This University of New Mexico invention will be made up of four-wheeled surface robots and aerial robotic craft that work together to scope out danger in military or emergency situations.  The university’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department invested about $500,000 to outfit the lab for these robots in 2007, said Associate Professor Rafael Fierro, a systems and control engineer who coordinates the research program.  There are several different types of robots, both air and ground, that work together in this project.  As a team, the robots can sense or detect radiation, chemicals, or other dangers, and then alert their human handlers or deal with the situation themselves.  You can click on the photo below to see a larger version of one of the robotic vehicles developed in this lab.

TXT-1 Robot 

Photo Credit:  MARHES Lab and University of New Mexico

UNM develops robot teams for defense, emergency tasks
New Mexico Business Weekly

“We’re creating multi-vehicle systems with applications in defense and emergency situations,” Fierro said. “The robots can detect things, such as radiation, dangerous chemicals and other hazardous materials. They can also provide emergency wireless communications in disaster areas to find victims and to provide real-time information to search-and-rescue teams.”

UNM develops robot teams for defense, emergency tasks – New Mexico Business Weekly
Sun, 20 Sep 2009 00:40:10 GMT